Zoos have long been a divisive subject for animal lovers. Some people believe that animals deserve to live out their lives in the wild. Others, however, believe that zoos provide a safe environment for animals to spend their days and perhaps even reproduce to continue to grow the numbers of their species.
In all of this debate, people have forgotten one important thing: what do the animals think about all of this? Some seem to love living in the zoo, whereas others require a little more space to explore the world their own way. These 12 amazing animal escape artists decided to make a break for it, and you won’t believe how!
1. The ape escape: In 1935, several different sources reported that a pack of rhesus monkeys escaped a zoo in Long Island and enjoyed days of freedom. They were apparently led by a monkey named Capone!
How did they manage such a jail break? When their keeper put down a board between their enclosure and the exit in order to feed them, they simply walked over the bridge to freedom when his back was turned.
2. Caught on tape: Two therapy llamas in Arizona escaped their owner and decided to hit the busy streets of Sun City in 2015. The police footage shot from a helicopter really added to the drama. The llamas were eventually captured by an actual cowboy, lasso and all.
3. He’s not in Kansas anymore: In 2005, a flamingo escaped from a zoo in Kansas. You’d think it would be easy to spot such a bright bird in the middle of America, but it took eight years for someone to finally track down this escapee.
The bird was found 650 miles away off Texas’s Gulf Coast. He mated with a female who escaped from a nature preserve in Mexico. Both organizations agreed to let the birds live out their lives in freedom together.
4. The escape artist: Ken Allen, an orangutan living in the San Diego Zoo in 1985, kept escaping from his enclosure. The first time, he just walked around the zoo looking at animals, and the second time he tried to hurl rocks at another orangutan he disliked.
The zoo had to hire professional rock climbers to figure out how Ken Allen kept escaping. Once they knew how he was doing it, they had to spend $40,000 to change his enclosure and keep him from wandering free and wreaking havoc.
5. He did it all for love: In 2013, zookeepers in India got the surprise of a lifetime when a male tiger walked right up to the tiger enclosure, eager to mate with the females whom he could smell living inside. The zookeepers took a chance and let the tiger wander right in!
He stayed at the zoo for months, mating, eating, and lounging, and then, just as suddenly as he arrived, he left. He escaped by climbing over a 200-foot wall and had not been seen since. Apparently, he was the love ’em and leave ’em type.
6. Big in Japan: In the city of Tokyo, a penguin named “337” escaped from the popular sea life park by wriggling through a hole in his enclosure. He was missing for almost two months and zookeepers were finally starting to fear the worst…
Amazingly, they had nothing to fear: 337 was spotted two months later and returned to the sea life park. When his doctors checked him out, they were floored to find that he was in perfect health. Apparently, city life agreed with the little guy!
7. Youth in revolt: When Rusty the red panda was just 11 months old, he was welcomed to the National Zoo in Washington, D.C. One night, after a heavy rain weighed down the trees in his enclosure, he was able to escape.
Rusty remained on the loose for only a couple of days. He was found when someone posted a sighting of the red panda with a passion for rule-breaking on Twitter. He had only traveled one mile after his great escape.
8. Typical cat: When zookeepers in Florida were working to repair a lion enclosure that was damaged by heavy rains, a two-year-old lion named Nala used the opportunity to slip out and enjoy some time away from her zoo home.
But, being a cat, it wasn’t long before Nala returned and tried to get in her enclosure! Unfortunately, she was scared off by the approaching zookeepers. Eventually, using a helicopter, they spotted her, tranquilized her, and returned her to her home.
9. Twitter famous: In 2011, an Egyptian cobra living at the Bronx Zoo made a dramatic escape. People were flummoxed as to how the creature managed to sneak out. The zookeepers insisted he couldn’t have gone far and they were right, he was found just feet from his enclosure.
While the story had a pretty tame ending, that didn’t stop the cobra from becoming quite infamous during his days of freedom. New Yorkers loved the story so much that one started a Twitter account for the snake that gained 160,000 followers!
10. Road trip: Chuva the macaw escaped her zoo home in Canada in a pretty ingenious way: She somehow managed to stow away inside the RV of a family visiting the zoo. Needless to say, the family was stunned at their discovery and made sure that Chuva got home right away.
11. Born free: Virginia the wolf cub refused to be contained. She wasn’t even two years old when she managed to escape from the zoo where she lived—twice! The second time she escaped by shimmying up a tree. She is now believed to be happily living in the woods.
12. Where’s Noah when you need him? When massive flooding hit a zoo in the country of Georgia, the effects were devastating. More than 300 animals died. However, some used the opportunity to escape to freedom including, appropriately, their hippo!
Wow! While some animals might love living at the zoo, it’s clear that these guys had other ideas. Can you believe that these animals managed to escape?
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